Sunday, April 17, 2016


Entry IslandEntry Island by Peter May
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peter May paints pictures with words to bring the reader into the world he has created. I started reading Entry Island expecting a modern day police procedural and was surprised to find the historical fiction aspect.

THE STORY: A murder has taken place on a small island off the coast of Quebec. Sime McKenzie finds himself assigned to the investigation team because the hundred or so people who live on Entry Island speak English not French.

What first appears as an open and shut case, takes an unexpected turn when Sime interviews the suspect and feels that he knows her.

Plagued by insomnia since his divorce, Sime's few hours of sleep contain vivid dreams composed of stories he heard as a child about his ancestor's life in Scotland.

WHAT I THOUGHT: My first Peter May book was The Blackhouse, part one of The Lewis Trilogy (The Lewis Man, The Chessmen). I always intended to read the other two books so when Entry Island appeared, I assumed it would be similar and, of course, in some ways it is.

Entry Island begins as a police procedural and morphs into historical fiction creating an engaging pastiche through the use of Sime's dreams and ancestral journals.

This may not appeal to all readers; but for those of us with roots in Scotland, who love journals, islands, and literate mysteries, it's a wonderful adventure.

The human characters are interesting and well-drawn but the most care is taken with the locations. Vivid word illustrations cause the reader to remember times they saw such a sunset or storm on the horizon. I found myself searching for pictures of the island on the internet. As much as I enjoyed the descriptive language, I sometimes had to force myself not to skip over it in pursuit of the story.

Obviously much research goes into May's works so there is the added pleasure of learning something new. The terror of the Highland Clearances in the 19th century resonates. My Mackay's left from Wick to come to Canada and eventually the United States around this time.

Although told in the third person, Sime's memories, dreams, and journal entries are told in the first person. Some reviewers pointed out the language was modern throughout. To that and some of the other criticisms, I would say forget your expectations (suspension of disbelief) and follow where the author leads you. You will have much more fun!

And I should admit that I was moved to tears many times. Peter May is gifted storyteller. You need to add his name to your list of authors to follow.

FIRST SENTENCE: "It is evident from the way the stones are set into the slope of the hill that industrious hands once toiled to make this pathway."

BOTTOM LINE: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love language, police procedurals, and historical fiction.

DISCLAIMER: Invited by NetGalley to request and receive this title for an honest review.

Title: Entry Island
Author: Peter May
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Publisher:  Quercus
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 544 pages
Copyright: September 15, 2015
ISBN-10: 162365663X
ISBN-13:  978-1623656638

Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:

  • the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
  • the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
  • the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France;
  • and several standalone books, including the multi award-winning Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK) and his latest Runaway (Quercus 2015).

He has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer. Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France. (from the author's web site)

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